Sociocracy and Theory U

You can now watch the recording of the webinar with Otto Scharmer. You are also free to share it!

And this is the place to discuss it. What are your thoughts?

What are you hearing, thinking, feeling, sensing?


I’ll start! I’ve been thinking a lot about what @pascale.mompoint-gai calls awareness-based approaches; I just wish that we didn’t rely as much on “just” awareness because, as she pointed out so well in her stories, awareness doesn’t reliably translate into action. I think that’s my biggest concern, and it’s a significant one.

Other than that, I’m psyched to introduce more ways of listening into my sociocracy practice. I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences!
I know we use “sensing” in SoFA Mission Circle (no coincidence since Pascale is our Mission Circle chair!) and now also in Continuing Education (where we do “sensing” from time to time to feel our way into what the field might be needing in terms of classes or events, or what future hot topics we want to prepare).

That reminds me of another question - what other Transformative Social System would you like to see compared next with sociocracy? I was thinking Warm Data because SoFA has already done things with Warm Data.

Looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts.

@pascale.mompoint-gai and @idit.rose, with a few days of distance to the event, what’s going on for you? What has stayed with you?


Thank you @TedRau for starting.

I learned a lot from this exchange.
To name a few, ( sorry a little long)…

I stay with your comment on how sociocracy can come across as slow, with the layers and circles, I loved the image that you gave us of a strong holding in the centre and agile and empowered teams on the periphery that prototypes.

For me that demonstrates both the action moving forth, but also the true empowerment that sociocracy offers for personal and collective responsible leadership, in this organic way we grow as leaders from the root.

Part of the frustration I met along the path of working in circles is often that the emotional aspect of our heart can dominate a meeting, and that some how we confuse it with ‘bring our heart to work’.
I loved Otto definition about using the heart as a sense organ, our body as a sensory instrument that senses rather than relaying on the rational thinking mind as a default.
I wonder if and how we may integrate that into circle meetings? And what that may bring forth?

Just to clarify, the emotional aspect of our being is important, it is the juicy parts that allow us outside our meetings to develop and expand our consciousness in the process.
We can only be aware of the edge of our consciousness. Working with our emotions, believes, ideas, perceptions may grow this edge.

Also, I stayed with the importance of making a clear definition; Sociocracy is not a flat organisational structure. It has a dynamic balance between the horizontal and the vertical.

Personally I have not met yet an organism that organises it self only as horizontal, flat, and that is sustainable.
Here I believe that often time awareness wares a mask.
In the name of higher consciousness, new age movement we tend to bypass our wounds, our relation to power, authority, patriarchal systems and our world crises.
We see ourselves as ‘ an aware group of people’ but the main root issues are still frozen beneath the water.

So for me Ted, the question of is awareness base systems enough? Yes, but only if it invert onto itself see and sense, because then it will also bring forth action and the appropriate structure to manifest.

I do think that both technologies are awareness based systems; one that gives us a physical structure ( sociocracy) and the intelligence of how the body parts connects and relate to one other, and the other (TU) speaks to me of the attitude, the skills we develop personally and as a collective to co create from the future.
As practiser of one or both we develop and evolve them, as they meet life’s needs.

I loved that open question how do we make sociocracy work for the need of each sector, I wonder if we could play with that in a dynamic way in SoFA?

Looking forward to continuing this discussion and reading about the project @pascale.mompoint-gai mentioned.



Curious how you do your “sensing” in the Mission Circle?


I enjoyed the webinar. Thanks again for your smooth and securing facilitation, @idit.rose!

Actually I noticed the source of the responses shifting during the conversation. In the first round after the storytelling, as movement leaders you were both functioning on the register of defending the frameworks, but then but in the second round we accessed more deeply sourced reflection and engagement with the blind spots of both frameworks, Sociocracy and Theory U.

I felt my role was very useful for the format. Having creators talk to each other often leads to ethereal conversations that have little anchors in realities that listeners can relate to more directly than theory. but I also found it to be a very challenging role: challenging creators and thought/practice leaders - who enjoy some level of stardom (ie the gurus) - is not for the faint hearted!

Awareness-based approaches: To your interesting question/comment @TedRau , I think

  1. There is no such thing as ‘just awareness’ :wink:. Awareness is the place from which we understand the world and self. And so it colors all the ideas we can contribute to policy and practice, to our social activities and interpersonal relations. So yes awareness leads to action whether we are aware of it or not. I often tell teachers in professional development courses: you cannot not teach values. as soon as you act in a classroom you are promoting values whether yo know it or not.
  2. Awareness is not a guarantee for anything, and especially not for getting rid of systemic oppression (patriarchal, colonial, violent structures) . Only power can do that! and so decision making and participation arise as the centre of the practice. Awareness for sharing power is the goal.

So sensing and presencing inside sociocracy helps, deciding how we decide is helpful on the right side of the U.

About the intersection btw sociocracy and other frameworks: I have infused mixed approaches when implementing sociocracy in, the NGO I co-founded. We have circles, do rounds and decide by consent elect without candidates etc. but that is not all, we use collective intelligence all the time (in groups, in pairs), sensing, action research etc. along with sociocracy in our meetings. If not people got bored and meetings got this kind of “dry” feeling about them (I think what @idit.rose mentions) that killed our enthusiasm for the mission at hand.

Of course this evolution was easy for us to do because designing approaches for facilitation and deep democracy is our core business… I feel that this might be more challenging for other organisations that aim to provide a “total system”. What do you think about this distinction?

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Of course! And I worry about what mention in 2 …

… because things like you described in your stories, they’re so common. Heck I know many stories where I thought I was “aware” enough to not make mistakes that I made. So I guess I’m even less optimistic than you on that topic. And I worry that awareness-based approaches turn into an echo chamber where everyone tells themselves and each other how conscious we all are now.
Awareness and sensing aren’t neutral tools, one senses and has awareness through a lense. I miss acknowledgment of that lense in those systems. Or is it there?

As for infusing TSS and on TSS in general, I wonder if maybe the new thing about TSS is that we can vary and negotiate our approaches. Instead of “do x when y”, there’s room for discernment, for balance, for both-and.
I currently work on a frame work that looks at an extension of “good enough”, namely “clear enough” and “explored enough” (this might need a better name), each corresponding to the consent process, clarifying question and reactions/exploration. The crucial skills of sociocracy arent’ to do a questions round, reaction round and then a consent round. The key skills are then to discern how much time to spend on each, and that might mean to negotiate that together. Maybe that’s why awareness is to important then to system-first TSS like sociocracy, because it feeds into the discernment process to help navigate what we do and how.

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